Experimental Mechanics

, Volume 50, Issue 8, pp 1183-1197

First online:

An Experimental and Numerical Study of Calliphora Wing Structure

  • R. GanguliAffiliated withDepartment of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science Email author 
  • , S. GorbAffiliated withEvolutionary Biomaterials, Max Planck Institute for Metal Research
  • , F.-O. LehmannAffiliated withBiofuture Research Group, Institute of Neurobiology, University of Ulm
  • , S. MukherjeeAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology
  • , S. MukherjeeAffiliated withDepartment of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science

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Experiments are performed to determine the mass and stiffness variations along the wing of the blowfly Calliphora. The results are obtained for a pairs of wings of 10 male flies and fresh wings are used. The wing is divided into nine locations along the span and seven locations along the chord based on venation patterns. The length and mass of the sections is measured and the mass per unit length is calculated. The bending stiffness measurements are taken at three locations, basal (near root), medial and distal (near tip) of the fly wing. Torsional stiffness measurements are also made and the elastic axis of the wing is approximately located. The experimental data is then used for structural modeling of the wing as a stepped cantilever beam with nine spanwise sections of varying mass per unit lengths, flexural rigidity (EI) and torsional rigidity (GJ) values. Inertial values of nine sections are found to approximately vary according to an exponentially decreasing law over the nine sections from root to tip and it is used to calculate an approximate value of Young’s modulus of the wing biomaterial. Shear modulus is obtained assuming the wing biomaterial to be isotropic. Natural frequencies, both in bending and torsion, are obtained by solving the homogeneous part of the respective governing differential equations using the finite element method. The results provide a complete analysis of Calliphora wing structure and also provide guidelines for the biomimetic structural design of insect-scale flapping wings.


Micro air vehicle Calliphora Mass per unit length Flexural rigidity Torsional rigidity Natural frequency Finite element method